League of Women Voters of Portland Endorses 2022 Charter Amendment

Portland City Hall by M.O. Stevens – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10470949
It is time to make Portland’s government more responsive, representative and effective.

At its June 29 meeting, the LWVPDX board voted to endorse the Portland Charter Commission’s proposed amendments to the City Charter. After in-depth studies of Portland’s government and of alternative voting methods,  LWVPDX concluded that the proposed amendments will substantially improve our city government. The amendments will be included in a ballot measure for the November 8, 2022, General Election.

The main charter reform proposals are to:
    • Elect candidates using ranked choice voting.
    • Increase the size of the  City Council to 12 members, electing three members each from four new geographic districts.
    • Establish City Council as a legislative body, without its current administrative responsibilities.  
    • Elect the Mayor citywide to run day-to-day operations along with a professional City Administrator.
Why approve these changes?
    • Proportional ranked choice voting can allow voters to elect a more representative council.  A significant majority of voters will be able to elect city councilors who represent their interests and concerns.
    • District elections with proportional ranked choice voting give Portlanders the power to elect a City Council that reflects the population they serve.
    • A larger City Council will be more responsive to our growing city population. Our population is more than 3 times larger than it was when the current 4-member council (plus the mayor) was established.
    • A legislative city council without administrative responsibilities can devote more time to setting policies and responding to constituent concerns.
    • Delegating the administrative duties to the Mayor and a professional City Administrator provides more effective management of bureaus.
    • Separating the legislative and administrative functions of government allows more accountability. The public knows who is responsible for policy-making, appropriations, and spending.

Learn more about the Charter Commission and LWVPDX’s advocacy with the Commission here. In the next few months, look for more information about how these changes would benefit Portland.

LWV and Advocacy

As a non-profit organization, LWVPDX balances advocacy and voter information.  LWVPDX’s advocacy arm can endorse a campaign or advocate on an issue.  LWVPDX’s voter services provide balanced, objective informational resources about all sides of a campaign. Across all its work, LWV is nonpartisan and will never support or oppose a candidate or party.

August 11 Election!

Be ready to vote with LWV resources!

Vote411.org website

Look for voting information on Vote411.org and on this website. The League is preparing to help you choose Portland’s next City Commissioner for Position 2.  Two candidates, Dan Ryan and Loretta Smith, are running to fill this vacant seat. To help you compare them, we held a debate. You will find the video of the debate posted on Vote411.org OR click here for our August 11 Special Election page under Vote.  In addition, both websites will show the candidates’ written answers to six questions about current city issues. The video and candidates’ answers are available on demand from July 22 through Election Day.

Vote July 23 through Election Day, Tuesday, August 11.

Ballots were mailed to Portland voters beginning on Wednesday July 22.  To vote in this special election, voters must register by July 21. The last day to mail your ballot is Thursday, August 6. However, you can drop your ballot off at an official drop site up until 8 pm on August 11.

For more information, see the Multnomah County Elections website.

 

Change Portland’s Government!

We have a new Position!

The Board of Directors of the Portland League has approved a new – and dramatically different – advocacy position on Portland’s City Government.

The position is the result of a thorough two-year study of Portland’s government, which led to the report shown at the left. After publishing this report, the study committee presented a panel discussion. Then, groups of League members discussed the findings and agreed upon key changes needed for Portland’s government.

The League’s new City Government position calls for major improvements in the government’s structure and also in the way voters elect the City Councilors. Here are some of our recommendations, which we will use during the City Charter Review process in 2021:

  • improve citizen representation by increasing the number of commissioners
  • institute a city manager
  • establish the City Council as a legislative or policy-setting body
  • elect some or all city councilors by district

You can read the entire new League position by clicking here.

During their two-year study, the study committee read more than 30 source documents. They also interviewed 15 government experts and city officials. Then they wrote their report, The City That Works: Preparing Portland for the Future. You can read the this report here. You may view the video of the panel discussion of Portland’s government here.

New Study of Portland’s Government!

Just Released: Restudy of City government

In September 2019, the League of Women Voters of Portland  completed our city government study, The City that Works: Preparing Portland for the Future.”

Portland League members voted to conduct this two-year restudy of city government in May 2017. Members realized that Portland’s voters needed more up-to-date and complete information to decide on possible changes to the City Charter.

The restudy looks closely at many parts of our current government. It examines strengths and weaknesses of the government’s structure and then explores different options for changing it. The goal is to provide useful ideas for how to improve the government so it serves the people of Portland as well as possible.

Read the study

You can read full text of the study report here.

View the panel Discussion

The video of a panel discussion about Portland’s government is now available here.

The panel included these speakers:

  • Mike Gleason, speaking on Why Do Cities Matter? What Does It Mean to Be a Successful City? Gleason served for 18 years as Eugene’s city manager.
  • Chris Tobkin, addressing the strengths of Portland’s commission form of government. Tobkin worked for Bud Clark during his two terms as Portland Mayor.
  • Julia DeGraw, looking at the weaknesses of the commission form, why it needs to change, and what should be changed.  DeGraw is an  activist and community organizer.
  • Betsy Pratt concluded the panel presentation with additional information on Portland’s government. Pratt was the chair of the League of Women Voters of Portland city government study committee.

The Multnomah Bar Foundation and the Carol & Velma Saling Foundation donated funding for the recording.

Promoting Public Involvement

Promoting public involvement is central to the Portland League’s mission. We believe our democracy works best when the public is involved in decision making.

Letter to City Council

On July 16, we advocated for more public involvement in the process of changing city code. (Click here to see our earlier post.)

Now, we are urging our City Council to involve the public when the City negotiates the next Portland Police Association (PPA) contract. 

 

Our July 30 letter says in part:

…we recommend a robust public engagement process leading into the 2020 negotiations. …we urge you to ensure that the upcoming process involves the community so that their input will have an impact on the outcome.

Portland is a stronger and more vibrant place when its people can bring their skills, knowledge, and lived experiences to the policymaking process.

You can read the entire letter here.

A Related event

The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform is sponsoring a forum about the contract.  Here are details.

  • Community forum on the Portland Police Association Contract
  • Monday, August 26 from 6-7:30 PM
  • Maranatha Church, 4222 NE 12th at Skidmore.
  • A 20-minute presentation on background; then community input.